Update: The leadership of the SBC Pastors’ Conference and Dr. Ben Carson’s team have come to a mutual decision that he withdraw from speaking at the Conference. Here is a link to Willy Rice’s statement. We have recognized all along that this decision is Pastor Rice’s alone to make, and we can’t imagine how difficult the decision has been. We are thankful for his humble and courageous leadership, and we wholeheartedly join in his call for unity.
Update: It appears Dr. Ben Carson’s FB message referenced in this post has been taken down – here is an image of the original post
Dr. Ben Carson, who is considering a run for President in 2016, has been invited to speak and close the Sunday night session at the SBC Pastors’ Conference in Columbus. We have deep respect for both Dr. Carson and the Pastors’ Conference leadership, and yet his invitation to speak at a conference for SBC pastors does cause us some concerns, as it has concerned other SBC pastors as well.
We raise our concerns here:
Dr. Carson is a Seventh-Day Adventist. Their official theology denies the doctrine of Hell in favor of annihilation, denies the doctrine of Sola Scriptura, and believes that those who worship on Sunday will bear the “mark of the beast.”
Also, on Easter, Dr. Carson wrote on his Facebook wall, “Let us also remember that Jews, Christians and Muslims all believe in God, and while there are ideological differences in who Jesus was, we should find peace in the fact that we are all God’s children.” Certainly, we do not all worship the same God – we worship the Trinity whom Muslims and Jews would deny. And, the idea that we are all God’s children is at best the type of liberalism the Conservative Resurgence sought to address, and at worst, it is universalism.
The Pastors’ Conference issued a statement saying that Dr. Carson will not speak as a pastor or theologian, but rather as a “courageous voice” calling for spiritual renewal in our country. We understand that there is precedent for voices outside the SBC to address the Pastors’ Conference, and we do not believe that all the speakers at the conference should be Southern Baptists. However, why not invite another courageous voice whose doctrines would more closely align theologically with Southern Baptists, and who would equip us to live courageously in the midst of our culture where religious freedom is eroding?
There continue to be perceptions in our culture that the SBC is in bed with the Republican Party, and actions such as having Dr. Carson speak at the SBC Pastor’s Conference only prove that perception correct. These perceptions continue to hamper our witness in an increasingly purple America, where missional efforts are often misunderstood as Southern Baptists asking people to become more politically conservative. While the convention hall room will be full of red politically, many of our congregations back home are increasingly politically diverse, and these one-sided affiliations can be difficult to explain, considering many already believe that Southern Baptists view God as a Republican. In fact, we have more in common with a born again Christian who is a registered Democrat, than we do with a universalist Seventh-Day Adventist who is a conservative. Perhaps Southern Baptists need to be reminded of what unites us together.
Many have lamented the lack of participation in SBC meetings by younger leaders (though trends have started to move in a positive direction, and we think that’s because of a more gospel-centered focus), and we are concerned that these kinds of speaker invitations will only hinder younger involvement. The reason is that a younger generation is often prone to avoid anything that seemingly weds the church with a specific political party, and portrays a “God and country” narrative that is not the gospel. A generation will be missing if our meetings feel like political rallies for the GOP.
We are concerned because in our evangelical climate it is often easy to confuse what it means to be a follower of Christ with what it means to be a patriotic American. So much of Bible-belt Christianity has equated, whether consciously or unconsciously, being a Christian with being a conservative, patriotic Republican. The narrative many of us were raised with was that the path to changing America or maintaining good values in our country was simply electing the right people and passing the right laws, but legislation will not transform a nation. The Old Testament narrative bears witness to this reality because Ancient Israel had all of the right laws but it never brought transformation. The issue is not the law; the issue is that hearts must be changed before a nation repents, and that only happens through the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We believe Southern Baptists must be engaged politically, but that the focus should be shaped by Scriptural convictions before generic American values.
Our desire in raising these concerns is to start a conversation regarding the purpose of our annual gathering, and why our affiliations matter, as we advance the Great Commission in America. Our suggestion is that we believe it would be prudent for future SBC leaders to stop inviting politicians to our meetings. Period. We are all actively involved in the political process, and we pray for and submit to our elected officials, but we need to keep a prophetic voice with both parties. Inviting affiliated politicians to our religious gatherings cannot help but mute our voice in this culture.
Pressing issues like this will be discussed at the Baptist21 panel in Columbus. Make sure you don’t miss out on the conversation. Sign-up here today.
***Note: Out of our love and respect for Willy Rice, who is the president of the conference, we offered him an opportunity to respond to this blog before we posted it. He has kindly and graciously declined to respond.
B21 loves the CP because it allows the churches of the SBC to pool their money and send almost 5000 missionaries to the most unreached peoples of the world, plant thousands of churches in the strategic cities of North America, scholarship nearly 17,000 seminary students being trained for ministry by world-class faculties, and much more. Because of this, we are really encouraged by reports of increased CP giving.
Specefically, we see a growth of CP giving in states that have moved to a 50/50 distribution of CP funds. Those states that are adopting a vision of getting more resources beyond their own borders are seeing churches give more aggressively to that vision.
Two states in particular are worth mentioning as both Iowa and Nevada that went to a 50/50 split saw massive increases in giving. Iowa saw a 200% increase, while Nevada saw an 80% increase. These are just two states of note, you can check out the rest here.
This trend is very encouraging, and we think that these states’ example can be a model paving the way for future growth in other states when it comes to CP giving. It seems as states provide an aggressive vision – for more to go on to the nations – more money is given so that Christ is made famous where He is not currently named. Let’s hope this is a sign of things to come.
B21 is excited to promote The Gospel Project’s panel on Biblical Preaching at this year’s SBC in Columbus.
Join the panel with Ed Stetzer, H.B. Charles Jr., Chip Henderson, and J.D. Greear on Tuesday, June 16, 2015 from 6:30-8:00am at the Greater Columbus Convention Center in Battelle Grand A/B on Level 3. They only have a limited seating capacity of 400, so sign up now to reserve your seat. They will serve a light breakfast, and every attendee will receive a bag of resources and books worth over $125!
During this discussion panel we will explore questions such as:
B21 is happy to announce a new addition to our stellar lineup of panelists for our lunch panel at the SBC in Columbus: Dr. H.B. Charles Jr.
A third-generation pastor, H.B. made his profession of saving-faith in the Christ as Savior and Lord and was baptized at the age of six.
Having faithfully served Mt. Sinai Missionary Baptist Church of Los Angeles for eighteen years, the Lord changed H.B.’s pastoral assignment and sent him to the other end of the country. During the summer of 2008, the Shiloh Metropolitan Baptist Church of Jacksonville unanimously called H.B to serve as its new pastor-teacher.
H.B.’s preaching has been published in the 2008 edition of The African American Pulpit, a scholarly journal that features African American preachers, and he and has published three books: It Happens After Prayer, On Preaching and The Difference Jesus Makes.
H.B. is currently enrolled at the Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary (Jacksonville), where he continues his formal education. He is also a regular guest speaker at various revivals, conferences, and conventions around the country and beyond.
H.B. is married to his best friend – the former Crystal R. Moreland. They are the proud parents of three children: H.B. Charles, III, Natalie Marie Charles, and Hailey Breanne Charles.
With panelists like H.B. Charles, David Platt, Al Mohler, Russell Moore, and Danny Akin, you don’t want to miss out. Lunch, free books, and needed conversation on difficult issues. Register here.
In light of the recent firestorm over the Indiana RFRA law, where parties on both sides have called for boycotting, we wanted to re-post Russ Moore’s insights on boycotting. He gave this interview immediately after he was elected as President of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission.
We are pumped that Dr. Moore will be with us at this year’s B21 panel in Columbus, and we look forward to talking through very important issues like religious liberty and cultural engagement. The B21 panel consistently has the conversations that need to be had. In the past Southern Baptists have looked to boycotts as a means of influencing the culture, but we hope the helpful conversations we have each year at the B21 panel will continue to chart a new course for gospel-centered engagement in our culture.
You can register for our panel here